Women’s running has come a long way. The evidence of this is all around us; no longer is it a spectacle to see a woman running on the street donning short shorts and sweating, not glowing, full on sweating. Women are allowed to run in all the same events as men, even take to the starting alongside them in some cases, and our times keep creeping lower and lower.
This topic is abuzz recently on a few fronts: the case of what is recognized as an official Women’s World Records if the time is run in a mixed race, the gender gap between elite times and mortal runners’ times, and the overall boom in women’s running. Janae, The Hungry Runner Girl, just did a post on that last one today as it was covered in this article on Running USA.
There is no question that there is a difference between women’s and men’s running; we can’t ignore the obvious and we shouldn’t. Some are glowing positives, I’m the first to be a proud runnerchick, but there are also some not so awesome aspects. That said, there are some not so awesome things I’d think of being a guy runner; I’m sorry I like the option of running in bunhuggers, but if I saw a guy in one I’d fork my eye out.
Obvious differences between training girls:
* Times: Genetics give guys the advantage, no way around it; even though we can close the gap, guys are able to run faster just because of that extra testosterone.
* Volume: Women generally run lower miles overall then men if they are training for the same event; I don’t think it’s because womens’ bodies can’t always handle the workload necessarily but because men can usually cover a mile at a faster pace than women if you added up the total amount of time actually spent running the difference between the two numbers would be less. There are still women who crank out the miles, Paula Radcliffe, Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan all run upwards of 100 miles a week; though their male counterparts (Dathan Ritzenhein, Meb Keflezighi) do too and may sneak in some higher numbers too.
* Group dynamics: Females can be catty. I know, hate me for saying it, and not ALL women are but if you’re a girl you know what I mean. Guys tend to be a little more lax, low-key and if they have an issue they’ll just say it to your face, hash it out, and get over it. Girls go the more passive-aggressive route or hold a grudge. Training a group of women is a tall order; mostly it’s a matter of getting that perfect group where all the women get along and genuinely aren’t into the whole ‘catty crap’. This is possible, I’ve been in groups where the synergy works; that said I’ve been in groups where it doesn’t and this is a coach’s nightmare.
* Iron and Calcium: Females are more likely to experience anemia, low iron, so it’s extra important for them to be sure their levels are maintained. The same goes for calcium to ensure their bone density is not diminished which leads to an ugly road and frequent stress fractures. This ties into of course the whole female triad issue: anemia, low bone density, and lost menstrual cycles.
The Runnerdude Factor:
If you’re a fast female it can be easy to just slip into a group of guys, if they are man enough to not pull an ego trip, and this can be of huge benefit to your own training. Training with guys faster than you, where they can help pace and pull you along, is something I always enjoyed. The other thing is, because you’re not actually competing against them, there is usually less pressure…if that makes sense. On the one hand it is awesome to beat the most guys you can in the group so it’s motivating, but then even though there are ones you can’t catch it’s not the ‘same’ as being in a group where other women (your competition) is kicking your butt. If that makes sense; for this reason sometimes women have found it easier on their psyche to train with a group of guys rather than other fast girls.
The Case for Runnerchicks United:
That said, there is still something special to be gained by training with some other women of similar abilities. When you do find that friend who you jive with it IS lots of fun and you can both push each other to new levels in training. Girl talk and bonding with a peer of the same gender is rewarding on the friendship level too. There are also some women who prefer to meet up with their ‘sole sisters’ for the the purpose of those friendships alone; they know that women can understand a few issues more-so than other guys would. whatever floats your boat and keeps you running.
Women Only Races:
Now there are races that are only open to women and really capitalize on that female power thing. I’m sort of torn though on how I feel about that; isn’t it kind of just reverse gender discrimination? I mean I’m ALL FOR empowering girls and women to get out and get active, but do we have to do that by discluding the men? If there was a race that went out of its way to keep women out, wouldn’t there be a big uproar about it? Oh, wait, that did happen and was ongoing until a female had had enough and just ran the Boston Marathon even though it wasn’t allowed…
I always liked racing with the guys, if for no other reason than to chick them...hehe. I knew in the end that having more fast competition usually meant faster times and a better performance from myself; so I was game. I suppose it all comes down to what your goal going into the race is and your own perspective on things.
Either way, the more people we can rope into this whole running thing the better…soon us crazy runners who crave those miles will outnumber the ‘normal’ people and then who knows what will happen!
Speaking of runnerchicks and chicking, it’s the final days to pre-order your Get Chicking shirt and help start the movement! Check it out people.
1) Are you a runnerchick or a runnerdude? What’s one difference you think of running as it applies to your gender?
2) Running group dynamics and gender mentality, do you think it’s easier to run in a womens’ group, guys’ group, or mixed group?
3) Women’s only races, what is your opinion on them? What do you think would happen if there was a guys only race?
4) Best thing about being a runner of the gender you are?
All I’ll say is I’ve seen guys running in spandex and I really can’t imagine running as a guy could be as comfortable, if you catch my drift.